Break the Rule or Not?

I use

and

but

and so

to start sentences often in my writing.

It just feels right. The tone is more conversational and seems to have a better flow. But does it make for good writing?

I’ve asked this question before. But I feel like I need to ask it again.

I’ve been revising my young adult novel “4 Wheels and a Piece of Maple.” My cousin was kind enough to read it critically. She pointed out all the flaws in the book and I’m happy that she was so brutally honest with me.

I’ve spent the weekend, going over her notes and making the changes in my novel. Here is one of the notes she wrote,

You have to decide if you are comfortable breaking the “Do Not Start A Sentence With But or And” rule. I will continue to point them all out, but you will have to decide if you want to do this. I’ve seen big name authors do it, infrequently.

It’s her word “infrequently” that really got me thinking. I was amazed at the amount of times I actually started sentences with conjunctions. It was probably too much. So I changed all but a few of them. The only ones I kept were in dialogue because they sounded natural to me there.

But as I read the newspaper this weekend, I noticed that several journalists actually do break the rule. I then thumbed through a few of my novels and couldn’t find any examples of this blatant rule breaking.

I wonder if it’s okay to break this rule in newspapers and blogs because they are more informal than the novel. What do you think?

3 Comments on Break the Rule or Not?

  1. Personally, I enjoy starting sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but.’ I think journalists do it for the same reason I do–it keeps things moving. It a sentence break, but it flows better than any other sentence break. Novelists may shy away simply because it’s not their focus as much.

  2. I think that writing should be as natural and as original as when you first wrote it, within reason. I think if it works and it flows, you should stick with it, even if that means breaking a grammar rule every now and then.

  3. Hi Ryan,

    I enjoy it too, but I wonder if it is lazy of us to use contractions haphazardly.

    Hi Alexis,

    This rewrite is driving me a bit crazy right now. I need to introduce a character earlier for the sake of the story but it doesn’t feel natural to me. Perhaps writing needs to be more natural. Thanks for the comment.

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